The spirit of Islam is not understood by Western minds, and therefore leaders of democratic nations cannot identify with Israel’s strategic precariousness and her reluctance to “Just give peace a chance.” (Photo: TAL COHEN)
“We will return to the sea of Jaffa, to the sands of Haifa, to the Palm trees of Beit She’an, and to the hills of Lod [near Israel’s Ben Gurion International airport] and Ramle. We in the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque await the legions of the conquerors. We await the armies from Tunisia, from Jordan, from Egypt, from Iraq, from the Maghreb [Northwest Africa], and from the Hejaz [Western Saudi Arabia].”
These impassioned words were broadcast by Imam Raed Al-Daana at an Italian conference in April. Daana is the Iman from the al-Aqsa Mosque, third most holy place for Muslims and where Yeshua the Messiah once taught and healed in the Jewish Temple.
Daana promises there are “great and proud men [in Gaza] who have realized the darkness and [when] the Jewish state will vanish…that morning, the sun will rise on Palestine.”
Daana is not from Hamas. He is a religious Islamic cleric in Jerusalem under the Fatah-ruling Palestinian Authority. He lives to see an Islamic Arab state replace Israel. It is this common aspiration that unites all factions of Palestinians with the exception of a few evangelical Arab believers.
The only difference between the Fatah and Hamas parties is that Fatah strategizes to dissolve Israel through the United Nations, through diplomatic demonization, isolation, sanctions and world opinion, whereas Hamas is dedicated to out-and-out attacks on Jewish civilians, kidnappings and other acts of terrorism against Israel.
In 2006 Palestinians living in Gaza chose a Hamas government over the Fatah party in “democratic elections.” Soon afterwards, Hamas overthrew the entire Gazan governmental infrastructure and kicked out all Fatah civil servants in bloody street battles, leaving the Palestinian Authority only with the West Bank.
THE END OF THE PEACE PROCESS
However, for his own reasons, at the end of April, 2014, PA head Mahmoud Abbas decided it was time to reunite the Palestinian people by reconciling Fatah with Hamas. The main hitch, however, is that the PA was supposedly conducting peace talks with Israel, and now was suddenly merging with Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization.
Israel’s response has been what you would expect: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately ended the already disintegrating peace negotiations with the PA, exclaiming, “How can the Palestinians say they want peace if they forge an alliance with these killers? We don’t negotiate with Hamas as long as they seek our destruction.”
HAMAS DREAMS OF DESTRUCTION
Indeed, what would keep Hamas from winning the next Palestinian election, and taking over the entire West Bank? Hamas’ dream would be to attack Israel, not just from Gaza, but also from Judea and Samaria.
This would mean Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the whole center of Israel would be fair game for renewed terrorism. This would mean that planes landing at Ben Gurion International airport would be a couple of miles away from terrorist rockets and missiles.
In case anyone missed their intentions, Hamas’ leader Khaled Mashaal announced, “Our path is resistance and the rifle, and our choice is jihad,” confirming to the world that Hamas is most definitely still committed to holy war against Israel.
Mashaal said now that the two parties of the Palestinians have signed a reconciliation pact, they must produce a joint strategy that will lead to the “liberation of our lands and holy sites and the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes.”
He declared boldly that until Israel is destroyed and replaced with an Islamic state, “There is no past or future without jihad and resistance. Jihad is our path.”
Indeed, it is very important to Hamas leaders that the world understands its goal and its purpose for existence.
EUROPEAN UNION PLEASED WITH REUNIFICATION
In response to the new reunion, the ever-present EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton finds herself quite pleased with the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. True, she did politely explain to Hamas that they “must uphold the principle of non-violence, remain committed to a two-state solution and accept Israel’s legitimate right to exist.”
May I politely ask Ms. Ashton, “Who is the party that is to remain committed?” What planet is she living on?
Netanyahu replied that Hamas’ participation in “peace” talks is a non-starter for Israel. Abbas then claimed that Hamas wouldn’t really have any say in executing policy in the West Bank no matter who won the elections. Really? Is Abbas living in a fantasy land or is “truth” simply not a part of his DNA?
There is, of course, a good chance that nothing will come of the Fatah-Hamas reunification as the power struggles between the two factions will surely continue. Both parties’ immediate goal is to determine who will control the monthly financial largess pouring into the West Bank in the form of multiplied millions of dollars from the U.S. and Europe. It is well known for anyone who wants to know that this money lines the pockets of those in power and their cronies and workers, and funds families of prisoners in Israeli jails convicted of murder and terrorism. (The more Israelis a convict murdered, the greater the sum to the families.)
ISRAELIS DREAM OF PEACE
As for Israel, I don’t know if it is really possible to articulate the profound, aching desire Israelis have for peace. We ask ourselves:
“Why are we a persecuted people—always persecuted, hounded and despised by the world?
Why can’t we have peace with the Palestinians who are a brand new community which came into existence only since the Jewish people began returning to their ancient homeland a little over a century ago?
Why can’t we make peace with a group of people who have never ruled over an inch of the Holy Land, who have never before had Jerusalem, or for that matter, any city as their capital?
Why can’t the Arab world accept one small state as a state for the Jewish people?”
But Israelis know that if the Islamic Arab states refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, it is because they don’t accept Jews living in the Middle East. And so that is Israel’s primary demand: Recognize us as a Jewish state!
But the Arabs claim that a Jewish state would be an apartheid state! The difference between these two peoples, of course, is that persecution of religious minorities in the Jewish state is minimal, really, infinitesimal, compared to persecution in any Islamic state. But the Fatah party tells Israel, “No” to a Jewish state! Hamas says, “Never!”
HOW MANY ISLAMIC STATES ARE THERE?
Well, there’s the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Then there’s the Islamic State of Saudi Arabia, of Oman, Mauritania, etc. Libya has made its official religion Islam, as has Malaysia…
In fact in every Arab state—and non-Arab state—where the population is overwhelmingly Islamic, every other religion suffers serious persecution. Ask any Christian (privately) if he is a second-class citizen in his Muslim country, and he will almost certainly tell you he is.
Come to think of it, I don’t believe I have ever heard any diplomat, journalist or head of state talk about Islamic apartheid. And Islamic apartheid is like no other apartheid that exists in this 21st century.
But diplomats like Secretary of State John Kerry recently warned that if Israel doesn’t make peace with the Palestinian Islamic country, Israel, the only democratic state in the Middle East, could well become an apartheid state! He was quickly parroted by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat who agreed wholeheartedly.
What a scam! Why didn’t Kerry mention the fact that because of the apartheid situation under the Palestinian Authority, the traditional Christian community is disappearing! Leaving the country! And traditional Christians are not out evangelizing like the Evangelical Christians are. The latter of course receive even greater persecution in the Palestinian communities, and in every single Islamic-dominated country. Who doesn’t know that under Sharia law, if a Muslim converts to Christianity, he receives a death sentence?
ISRAEL’S DREAMS VS REALITY
To negotiate a peace treaty with the Palestinians, Israelis know we must have some way of insuring that terrorists cannot plan attacks from Judea and Samaria.
And no matter how much pressure is put on Israel, the Jewish people will not give up the Western Wall and control of the Old City to a Muslim authority. Jerusalem will be Israel’s capital.
Israel agrees that Palestinian “refugees” including children, grandchildren and great grandchildren could live in a Palestinian state, but not in Israel.
Here is my bottom line: It’s not going to happen. There’s not going to be a peace treaty. When there is a new president of the U.S., he or she will surely send over more diplomats who will try to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They, too, will fail.
The god of this world will continue to hammer and batter Israel. But there is a growing army of Messianic Jews and Bible-believing Christians who are interceding for the physical and spiritual deliverance of the Jewish people of Israel!
These prayers will be answered by the Mighty God of Israel who will send His own army of angels to bring His ancient, beloved people back safely to Him.
A brand new mosque holding 3,000 worshipers has been built in Abu Gosh, an Israeli Arab town of 6,000 people. The mosque brings with it a different atmosphere and advances Allah’s goals. (Photo courtesy of Martin Sarvis)
A little over six miles west of Jerusalem lies the picturesque village of Abu Ghosh. Home to some 6,000 Israeli Arabs, the town is nested in a woodsy part of the hills surrounding the Israeli capital. In fact, it was very near to here in Kiriath Jearim that the Ark of the Covenant once rested for over 20 years.
Today there is a monastery on the hill overlooking the town, whose church’s marvelous acoustics are exploited by a classical choral festival held there twice a year. There is also a large community of ultra-Orthodox Jews nearby.
The Arab community in Abu Ghosh has long been noted for its friendliness to Israeli Jews. This goes back to early Zionist times, and has continued to the present. Today the restaurants in the village are flooded each weekend with Jewish patrons, enjoying the friendly atmosphere as they sample the famous humus and other Mizrachi cuisine.
We say Mizrachi (Eastern)—but there is a strong tradition that the ancient ancestors of the majority of the inhabitants of Abu Ghosh did not come from Arab nations to the east, but arrived from what is today called Chechnya.
The religion of Chechnya is Sunni Muslim, strengthened according to one theory, as a “religion of liberation” from continual oppression by Russia. For years, Abu Ghosh’s Muslims have worshipped in a small village mosque holding around 150. But that is all about to change.
A LARGE MOSQUE APPEARS IN THIS SMALL TOWN
During the past year a structure suddenly began capturing the attention of motorists passing by on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.
Unlike anything seen in Israel before, its four golden pointed turrets might at first call to mind a Disney fairytale castle. It is, in fact, a vast new mosque. Second in size throughout Israel only to the Al-Aqsa itself on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, this mosque will host as many as 3,000 worshipers.
The mosque was funded primarily by the Islamic Republic of Chechnya—donating $6,000,000 of the $10,000,000 needed. The locals are, of course, excited about their new center for worship. Abu Ghosh Mayor Salim Jaber comments, “This mosque is for Allah. It will be neither fanatic nor inciting. I want to invite all the people of Israel to the opening: rabbis, priests, sheikhs. Anyone who loves Abu Ghosh.”
THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE
Yet we find something deeply disturbing in the appearance of this ornate structure in Abu Ghosh. For all the mayor’s assurances, the Islam emanating from Chechnya is hardly what one might call moderate (witness the brothers Tsarnaev who perpetrated the Boston Marathon attacks last year).
What might this mean in Abu Ghosh? As one reporter put it, “Somehow, Islam was always a footnote in the village’s public image. But that may change soon.”
And this is not just any mosque—it is the largest built in Israel in over a thousand years. The only one larger is located where the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD God of Israel came finally to rest—Jerusalem. Now the second-largest has been built where the Ark rested before King David brought it to Jerusalem.
And it has four minarets instead of the normal one or two. Said to be a uniquely Chechnyan phenomenon, this is presently the only four-towered mosque in Israel.
BIBLICAL COMMANDMENTS TO ANCIENT HEBREWS
Of course, one may immediately identify a village as Muslim Arab by observing the presence of these erections projecting up into the heavens. And what of their spiritual significance? The Hebrews were instructed upon entering Canaan they were not to bow down to the gods worshipped there. They were to “utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars (matsevah in Hebrew).”
So, such a pillar “stood” for something. Not all were evil. It might be a stone “set up and anointed as a memorial of divine appearance,” as occurred with Jacob in Genesis 28:18. Moses erected 12 of these in conjunction with an altar at the foot of Mount Sinai as a sign of covenant between the 12 tribes and the LORD.
Yet, when a matzevah is set up on behalf of another god, jutting, as it were, brazenly into the face of the God of Israel, “taking its stand” on behalf of falsehood and death, it is a thing which He hates. They were to be “completely broken down.”
“Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for YHVH whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land…and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice.”
I am not suggesting Islamic minarets in Israel should be cut down. But their prevalence strengthens the power of the spirits they represent. This could be the real reason for their proliferation in countries where their masters seek to gain control.
MOSQUES HEIGHTEN ISLAMIC CONTROL
I remember being told while in Istanbul 20 years ago, that there was literally a push to have a minaret raised on every city block in the city. That nation is now under its first Islamist leader in almost a century. I suspect this to be why the Kingdom of Jordan periodically seeks to gain Israeli approval for a “fifth” minaret to be raised over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (reportedly over the Eastern Gate).
There would then be over the most holy place on earth, a network of minarets representative of the “Five Pillars of Islam.” The breach in the heavenlies, were this to happen, is difficult to imagine.
I believe the raising of this enormous four-towered mosque in Abu Ghosh may represent a spiritual conspiracy for the establishment of a new stronghold of darkness in the “mountains surrounding Jerusalem.” In 1948, the Abu Ghosh citizens are said to have shown mercy to the trucks trying to make it through the pass to bring nourishment to the starving Jews in Jerusalem.
With this mosque activated, might the city’s present-day citizens find themselves being influenced to behave in an exactly opposite way?
Martin and wife Norma live in Jerusalem. Martin is on staff of Succat Hallel, a 24/7 worship and intercession ministry.
A market place conference in Singapore: Christian businessmen and women seek for ways to help Israel through contributions and investments.
In the month of April, Shira and I had the opportunity to travel to Singapore, and I had the privilege to be one of four speakers at a Market Place Conference called “Restoring the Kingdom.”
Businessmen and women came from all over “Asia Pacific”—from Malaysia (yes, there are many Christian business people from Malaysia!), Australia, Hong Kong and China.
It has always been my conviction—and I believe a Biblical mandate—that the market place has a strong responsibility in helping to build the Kingdom of God. How to put practical legs on this mandate was the goal of the conference.
The four main speakers of the conference were George Annadorai from Singapore, Peter Tsukahira, Steve Carpenter, and myself, all from Israel. We had the opportunity to present the Biblical foundation on the specific role of the market place in building the Kingdom of God. We had excellent teaching from Peter and George on the historical and contemporary impact that business has had on the body of Messiah—even in New Testament times. It has become clearer to us all that there is a very significant role the Far East will be playing in the last days revival. The Gospel has literally begun to explode throughout the Far East, and God’s net is bringing in many from the business community.
One of the messages that we taught in this conference was the principle of First Fruits, and that they belong to the Lord Himself and His work. This impacted greatly the business community at the conference. It was also clearly emphasized that Israel is the first fruit among the nations, and that the nations have a responsibility to lift up Israel and encourage God’s purposes for her.
Many people at the conference had looked very positively at Israel, and many love the Jewish people. However, they didn’t know of a practical way to reach out to the nation. The conference speakers not only gave a clear Biblical foundation as to why the nations should stand with Israel, they also gave many practical opportunities as to how the business community could contribute to the ministry of the Gospel, and also invest in viable business opportunities.
The response at the end of the conference was very positive, and nearly half of the participants wanted to be actively involved in some way to reach out to the nation, both in business opportunities, and in support of ministering the Gospel in the Land.
The organizers of the conference are already planning to have additional conferences in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, and again, in Singapore. It was very encouraging to know that there is a large market place community of believers in the Far East that are desiring to be used by God to bless the nation of Israel, and to see God’s plan for the nations through Israel be accomplished.
We believe that when the market place around the world sees and understands God’s heart for Israel, they will be excited to work together with us to restore the fallen Tabernacle of David, so that Israel will become the burning torch and a flame for the sake of the Gospel.
Joel 2:28 says after this happens God will pour His Spirit upon all flesh.
Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust
and the gnawing locust…
Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am the Lord your God,
And there is no other…
It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.
(Joel 2:25-28, NASB)
When I was a teenager, living in Israel, a youth group from Chicago would come to Israel to engage the Israeli youth several times a year. I attribute much of my success in maneuvering that tricky state of “teen-sanity” to the support I received from this group.
Today, this same type of spiritual support is offered at Katzir youth conferences three times a year. I so believe in the power of bringing these young kids to be together with each other and loving leadership, that three times a year I cut time out of our busy schedule to be at the conference personally and love on the kids.
Having grown up in Israel I have watched many kids who came from loving, believing homes struggle and eventually turn on God soon after leaving home as adults.
Several years ago I began inquiring into the lives of Israeli young adults who held fast to their relationship with God. I noticed that despite their struggles, those who had close friendships with believing peers ended up the strongest spiritually and the most well rounded socially.
People who don’t live in Israel might find it hard to understand what it’s like to grow up as the only believer in your school – or neighborhood. But growing up in an environment where you are constantly the odd ball during your stage of life when you are developing your identity is difficult to say the least. But this is the reality for many believing kids in Israel.
So it’s not a surprise that at the end of each conference when testimonials are shared, the number one comment is how wonderful it feels to be among other believers.
We get to see their excitement – how wonderful it feels for them to know they are a part of something bigger than the usual 5-10 person youth group in their town. How wonderful it is to worship with a hundred or more of their peers from all over the country.
The Katzir summer gathering is a solid week of wild fun and deep spiritual challenge. Instead of wasting away on the latest episode of “Garbage-in-a-Box,” Katzir youth spend their days hiking to remote watering holes used in Bible times and their evenings worshiping and studying the Word and how it applies to their daily grind.
It gives me great joy to see the deep connections that are formed during these times. Because the stronger the support system the teens have, the more likely they are to grow into spiritually healthy, well rounded leaders in their community or nation.
Shani and her husband Kobi live in Jerusalem with their four children. They founded Yeshua Israel Ministries and Kobi administrates the Israel Prayer Tower ministry in downtown Jerusalem. They can be contacted at www.yeshuaisrael.com.
Israeli teenagers from Katzir conference last spring.
There is room for 90 teenagers only, and another 30 counselors and volunteers at the Katzir Conference this year.
Cost for each teenager: $630 including food, lodging, transportation for 8 days.
Teenagers pay: $210 although there are scholarships for those whose family cannot pay.
Needed for each youth: $420 (Total of $37,800)